Anxiety versus Depression, Nature Versus Nurture, and Monkey F*cking Emails

Monday, January 26, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General


Emails are fun. Take this one for example, which started out with: "Why the fuck do you talk about monkeys all the time?"

It's a valid question, and to be honest, I like the ballsiness of the writer. So, let's do this. 

Because, friends, monkeys matter if we want to understand the interaction of environment, social influence and biomedical contributions to common mental health issues. This is especially true if we are trying to decide how genetics might be contributing to your depression or how early experiences with your mother contributed to your anxiety. Monkeys might help us decide what we should do about it. 

Clinical Assessment of Mental Illness and The 15% Principle

Shrinking it up takes looking at a million different variables in any one person. But, as the authors of Darwinian Psychiatry note, each larger category probably only explains around fifteen percent of the total picture1

Fifteen percent. That's way less than the percentage of the pot of coffee I am going to drink while writing this....  continue reading

Is This Thought Normal or is it Postpartum Depression? The Top 5 Scary Thoughts After Birth

Friday, January 23, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Postpartum Depression

In the past I have written extensively about postpartum depression, from the evolutionary drives to abandon when stressed, to the importance of support, to the influence of hormones to the difference between PPD and postpartum psychosis (Check out the posts linked at the bottom of this article). But even with a symptom checklist, many don’t recognize the symptoms for what they are. Part of the reason for this is that the thoughts that accompany PPD may resemble normal thought patterns in new moms. So, I decided to create a different kind of checklist to help you differentiate between normal worries and signs of postpartum depression.  ...  continue reading

How To Deal With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and "What If?" Thinking

Monday, January 19, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

What-if thinking is an exercise described in detail by Dr. David Burns in When Panic Attacks1. For those who suffer with anxiety or panic attacks, this exercise can be immensely helpful with getting to the root of a scary thought pattern.  

I know, it sounds very Freudian, but I promise we won’t blame it all on your mother or sexual attraction to your father.

Freudian slip = when you say one thing but mean a mother…I mean another!! 

Why Getting To The Root of a Problem Matters

The underlying meaning to these patterns is sometimes important because there may be a deeper-rooted fear for certain negative thoughts. While someone with an overactive nervous system may feel anxious about all kinds of different things, someone with a deeper fear may have it manifest in a series of thoughts that are seemingly related, but not obvious in their root. If you can change that original underlying thought--which may be closer to a belief--you can avoid other thoughts cropping up later....  continue reading

Hurts So Good: One Woman's Struggle with Skin Picking Disorder

Friday, January 16, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Excoriation, or skin picking disorder, is a condition categorized in the DSM-IV with not otherwise specified impulsivity issues such as trichotillomania (hair pulling/twirling), pyromania (fire starting) and kleptomania (stealing). Though it is usually identified as being on the obsessive compulsive spectrum, excoriation may come about for a number of reasons, discussed more in the post What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

But insight matters and no one can describe the emotional impact of excoriation quite like one who suffers. So I have invited a friend of mine to share her experience. If you suffer from this condition, you are not alone....  continue reading

What is Skin Picking Disorder? Excoriation and Why You Should Avoid Rush Limbaugh

Monday, January 12, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

While many pick or scratch their skin, Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder—sometimes known as Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP), Pathologic Skin Picking (PSP) or Dermatillomania—is present around 1.4% of the population1. The beginnings tend to be benign, a small injury or pimple that gets scratched or worried into a larger injury. With repeated picking of the scab, it remains itchy encouraging further picking to relieve it, and eventually becoming a habit. In hindsight, most note that they started picking after a stressful event or life change and may have subconsciously relied on the behavior as a way to reduce that strain. 

I know I get all picky when I listen to Rush Limbaugh. But I digress. 

Some women may find that these behaviors fluctuate with hormonal shifts, such as the menstrual cycle, and others have these behaviors begin around larger alterations such as menopause, suggesting that hormonal balance may play a role. There may also be genetic or environmental components that are as of yet undiscovered, as some animals also engage in self chewing, the non-opposable-thumb equivalent of skin picking and other compulsive behaviors. And those with anxiety disorders and depression might be especially vulnerable to these issues as a way to process excess stress....  continue reading

5 Reasons We Suck At New Year's Resolutions (And What To Do About It)

Friday, January 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

Let’s be clear up front: this is not an article about how to stick wholeheartedly to your resolutions. I won’t tell you to set your alarm across the room so you can’t hit snooze if your goal is to work out every morning. I won’t tell you to throw out all the cookies in the house because you gave up sugar “from now on.” 

Plus, life without cookies? Puh-lease.  Screw that noise. 

Here’s the thing, guys: resolutions are bound to fail. Resolutions come and go partially because no one really expects that they will stay for any length of time. It’s the ultimate joke for many. 

“Oh, you resolved to give up yoga pants? See you at the grocery store wearing Yogi’s special in a week, girl.”

It’s not your fault, though. It’s the way we approach the goals that somehow became critical at the first of the year when we were still coming out of that sugar and carb coma that makes the holidays so damn delightful.

“SO MUCH SUGAR! Staring January first, I’m never eating sugar again!”

Except you will. You know it too....  continue reading